Expats Life in Turkey
When it comes to an idyllic lifestyle, general society in some countries like the UK, who don’t have an ideal weather climate, promote the dream of living abroad. The standard narrative says you leave school, slog your heart out for 40 years plus, and then, you should have enough money to retire abroad, and spend your days by the pool, sipping Pina Coladas, while face timing your family to tell them how happy you are.
While all of this is possible, expat life in Turkey often involves some personal challenges rarely talked about. Don’t assume wrong because we are NOT knocking expat life in Turkey. There are many benefits for foreigners living in the country and half of our team, who are expats, say moving to Turkey was the best thing they have ever done.
However, they also go on to say, that being aware of personal challenges that you might face, makes them a lot easier to deal with.
The Language Barrier Will Frustrate You
With a few exceptions, most expats arrive in Turkey, eagerly sign up for language courses, go around speaking Turkish words they have learned and expect to be fluent within a year. Reality proves that this does not happen, and many frustrated expats give up trying to read Turkish newspapers, watching the TV or reviewing red tape and small print.
The good news is that you are not stupid. Research shows the easiest age to learn a second language is at seven. After that, it becomes harder. The other drawback, which is not your fault, is that many Turks want to learn English, Russian, German and so forth, so they see expats in Turkey as the ideal people to practice on.
So, do you just have to accept that you are never going to learn the language? Far from it. You just need to get clever about language hacking. For example, learning one word a day means by the end of the year, you know 365. Alternatively, the 80 / 20 rule, which means learning the 100 most common Turkish words, will enable you to have a fluent conversation eighty percent of the time.
Exhausting Red Tape and Bureaucracy Procedures Will Frustrate You
Applying for residency, registering your electric meter, navigating the laws about driving and any other important process can often be frustrating in Turkey because the red tape and bureaucracy are long winded, and it often takes time for communication to trickle down through the relevant government departments.
The good news is that, since Turkey entered the digital age and started doing everything via computers, it is a lot better. Also, many people will help you, so this is not one of those occasions when you need to brave the storm on your own.
Many expat groups on Facebook and in real life are a reliable source of information. Other expats hire fixers, who are people who will translate, take you to appropriate offices and walk you through the process. At Turkey Homes, we offer all our customers this service, as well as advice, so help is always at hand. You are never on your own when it comes to navigating the system in Turkey. Just be prepared to ask for help.
You Might Fall Foul of the Expat Syndrome
The expat syndrome is real, and research shows that it typically hits around the three-year mark. Victims tend to be retired people, and a major contributor is too much time on your hands without a structured life.
Anyone who has worked the rat race for a considerable amount of time obviously looks forward to doing nothing. They want to throw off the confined straight jacket of stress and just relax and recharge their batteries.
When the body has done this, however, and the mind does not register it, what happens is an intense feeling of boredom and dissatisfaction. If you have ever heard of the stories, where expat life in Turkey revolves around getting drunk in the afternoon, this is a perfect example.
Everyone needs purpose in life, and once you have recharged your batteries, it might be worth looking at hobbies or charities who need volunteers. While the idea of doing nothing sounds idyllic, everyone needs a reason to get up in the morning if they are to avoid the expat syndrome.
Too Much of a Good Thing
The benefits of expat life in Turkey are plentiful including a lower cost of living, favourable exchange rate, and extremely healthy interest rates on savings accounts. This means many expats find themselves financially better off than they’ve ever been before.
Couple this with gorgeous weather that encourages the outdoor lifestyle and rooftop or seaside dining alfresco style, with copious amounts of wine or cold beers suddenly becomes the norm. After all, what’s better than having your food cooked for you and being waited on hand and foot? During the day, when the weather is too hot, lying about doing nothing seems the best thing to do.
The problem with this lifestyle is not only is it disastrous when stepping on the scales to weigh yourself but generally too much of a good thing leads to an overall decrease in your level of fitness. Experts say being active is one of the main ingredients for a long, healthy life, and when we give up work, our activity level generally drops.
It is worth adopting a health and fitness regime. Many Turks love to walk in the morning or at evening when temperatures drop. There are also parks in green areas, with fitness equipment that is free to use.
Personality Traits of Successful Expats
Our expat team mutually agreed that certain personality traits, will not only help you deal with the issues above but also help you to keep a feeling of control over your life in Turkey.
- A sense of curiosity and willingness to learn
- Be open to different ideas and beliefs
- Financial organisation
- Emotional intelligence and the ability to handle your own thoughts and feelings
- Cultural tolerance and capacity to analyse or look at a situation without emotional bias.
- Ability to adapt
The benefits of having these characteristics are many, but you will feel the strength to create for yourself, the lifestyle you ideally seek. Some people want to socialise, others want to contribute towards charities, others want to indulge in personal hobbies such as photography, walking, books, or history. Whatever you visualise for your future, they ensure that your dream of living by the beach, in gorgeous weather becomes a reality and not a short trip that sends you running back to your home country.